Windows Server 2003 R2 now a release candidate

"RC0" is a near-final form of the server operating system's R2 release, which will stand as an interim version of Windows Server until Longhorn ships in 2007.

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Microsoft on Tuesday made available the release candidate of Windows Server 2003 R2.

The software, formally called Windows Server 2003 R2 Release Candidate 0 (RC0), adds branch office server features, some identity and access management features, as well as storage management tools. The final version of R2 is expected to be available sometime before the end of the year.

Some of the prominent identity and access management features include Active Directory Federation Services and Active Directory Application Mode. There are also some storage management features such as the File Server Resource Manager, as well as Storage Manager for storage area networks (SANs).

R2 precedes the Longhorn Server release of Windows, which is due sometime in 2007. Customers will likely take a close look at the software, even if they don't upgrade right away.

"We just rolled out our servers, so we won't be putting it out there any time soon," said Kirk Patten, an IT executive at RotaDyne Corp., a Darien, Ill., maker of plastic products. "I'll look at it and see if there is anything we have to have, but there must be a compelling reason [to upgrade]."

RC0 is available as a download from Microsoft's Web site.

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